After a pandemic hiatus last holiday season the Whitefish Theatre Company is making a merry, musical return to the seasonal stage this week with “Elf The Musical,” an adaptation of the popular 2003 Will Ferrell Christmas movie “Elf.”
“It has Santa, it has elves, and it’s magical,” Director Kim Krueger said. “Walking into the theatre it’s like you’re putting on a giant Christmas sweater and a Santa hat. It’s just gonna make you feel good.”
“Elf The Musical” is a comedy which tells the story of an orphan child named Buddy who slips into Santa’s bag and winds up in the North Pole, where he comes to believe he’s an elf, despite his enormous size and poor craftsmanship in the toy shop. When he discovers he isn’t an elf, Buddy takes off to New York City to get answers about his identity.
The musical adaptation of the play hews closely to the plot of the movie, though there are a few surprises worked in.
“We wanted to come back with a bang, and this is the bang we were looking for. We’re super excited to share this with the community,” Krueger said. “It does stick to the whole idea of you’ve got to have that Christmas spirit. And how important it is for people and communities and workplaces to really support each other and find the good in your heart.”
The Flathead Valley cast of 29 includes actors as young as 12. Starring in the role of Buddy will be Mikey Winn. Costumer designer Sarah Bell and a group of seamstresses have made more than 75 costumes. The production will feature live music, dance numbers, and one set even features an “ice rink” upon which cast members will roller skate.
Krueger said she wanted to give a shoutout to the painters, builders, costume and prop folks, and all the other volunteers that have made the show possible. “We’ve had so many amazing volunteers on this show,” she said.
In between brush strokes for the backdrop of a Chinese restaurant, Whitefish Theatre Company Executive Director Jen Asebrook said Monday the holiday show is typically the theatre company’s best-selling show. The company acquired the rights a couple years ago, not long after they were made available to small theatre companies, but COVID-19 closures squashed any opportunity to put on the play.
“Elf is hugely popular. I have a 20-year-old and a 17-year-old and for them, and my family, this is our holiday tradition, to watch “Elf” the film at home, and so there’s a whole generation of kids that this is their holiday show. This is what they know, and this is what families watch year after year after year after year,” Asebrook said.
“To see it come to life on stage is really exciting, and you know of course the film is not a musical, so this adds kind of another dimension that maybe is new for people that are diehard ‘Elf’ fans.”
People who may not be able to attend the show in person will be able to buy tickets for a filmed version of the show. As Asebrook explained, the theatre company has a sort of miniature TV station set up in the back and will have three different cameras set up. The practice started during the pandemic and has continued.
“We love the live performance, but we’re just trying to accommodate everybody because we know the show is going to be really popular, and because there are people that are still probably not ready to come back to indoor theatre,” Asebrook said.
Tickets for some of the nine performances have already sold out. As of Nov. 29, the Sunday matinee shows had sold out, and both Saturday shows were down to 30 seats or fewer remaining. Asebrook said Thursday and Friday night shows would be good days to come for people wanting to bring their family that still haven’t bought tickets. The play runs two hours and has a 15-minute intermission.
A preview night is scheduled for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for that performance are more than half off for adults.
“We used to say it was the last dress rehearsal,” Asebrook said. “These actors, by the time preview night rolls around they’re so spot on, it’s kinda turned into opening night.”
Information from Whitefish Theatre Company: A sneak preview night is on Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Performances continue on Dec. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11 at 7:30 p.m. and on Dec. 5 and 12 at 4:00 p.m.
Tickets are $25 for adults, $23 for seniors, and $10 for students with reserved seating. Tickets for the sneak preview performance on Dec. 1 are sold only at the door and are $12 for adults and $10 for students. WTC is also offering virtual tickets for this show. Visit www.whitefishtheatreco.org to purchase “Rent Video” tickets for each person watching the show. You can then watch the show online anytime from Dec. 2 to Dec. 12.
In addition to online, tickets can also be purchased at the WTC Box Office, 1 Central Ave., Whitefish, or by calling 862-5371. Box office hours are from 11 a.m.to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before performance times.
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